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‘Spring Festival’ a community event for magnet school

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Fun for the whole family — and for a good cause.

LEAD Elementary in San Mateo, a magnet school focusing on literacy and the digital arts, is inviting County residents to its free-admission Spring Festival on Saturday, June 1, a school celebration that features live entertainment, food trucks, and a long list of fun children’s activities.

The festival runs from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school’s campus at 949 Ocean View Ave.

The event will begin with a Cascarones Kick-Off and end with a Color Wave Closing Ceremony, during which participants will be showered in colorful powder. In between, community members will enjoy performances by Island Boyz Mobile DJ and Folkloric & Peruvian Dancers and be able to choose from food trucks Waffle Amore, Camila’s Tacos and Kiss My Boba.

Community groups and organizations are coming out in full-force for the kids, including Science from Scientists, Playworks, the San Mateo Police Activities League, San Mateo firefighters, Newton Center, Teeny Maker Space, and San Mateo’s ‘Mobile Recreation’ van. Kids can also have their faces painted and enjoy games (pig race, duck pond, fish bowl etc.), a paper flower wall and more, all run by volunteers.

A festival raffle packs some truly hot prizes, especially given Disneyland’s new Star Wars-themed section and the Golden State Warriors’ ongoing NBA Finals run. Raffle participants can win Disneyland Hopper Passes, Warriors gear autographed by Shaun Livingston and a full truck junk removal from Junk King, among other prizes. All proceeds benefit the LEAD classrooms, library and PTA programs.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: New Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus formed on Peninsula

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In yet another sign of how the Peninsula has changed, a group of local political leaders has formed a new Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus with the intention to mobilize politically what is one of the area’s booming demographic groups and the second-largest racial category in San Mateo County.

Coordinated by Jeff Gee, former Redwood City Councilmember, and Millbrae Mayor Wayne Lee, the caucus will raise funds, endorse candidates, engage in voter education and call attention to issues critical to the community.

“The API voice in San Mateo County is not there,” Gee said. “It’s not present,” nor is it unified and “everyone is doing their own thing.” The formation of the caucus is intended to be a means by which “all the Asian and Pacific Islanders come together. It’s time to raise our vision together.”

According to updated 2017 U.S. Census data, more than 31 percent of the county’s 763,000 residents are Asian American, either solely or in combination with other races; 2 percent are Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. In some cities, Asian Americans are the largest demographic – nearly 50 percent in Millbrae, 55 percent in Daly City.

The largest demographic in the county is white at 52 percent, followed by Asian, then Hispanic at 25 percent and African American at 2.4 percent. By next year’s census, San Mateo County will be a majority minority county.

The impending census was a significant prompt for the formation of the API Caucus. Gee said Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders may be the “largest undercounted demographic in the county.” He said many members of these communities are not sufficiently informed about the census and opt not to participate or simply don’t know they should.

Gee acknowledged it’s not entirely clear how many APIs are in elective office in the county – there are 13 on city councils and several on local school boards, particularly the San Mateo-Foster City, Belmont-Redwood Shores and Jefferson Elementary districts.

Gee said there is an opportunity for growth and he wants to focus on “pipeline building,” identifying future prospective candidates and providing them training on how to build a campaign organization. “The progress people have made, they have made on their own,” he said. A coalition can multiply influence, both within the community and as the caucus partners with other political interests, such as the Latino and the LGPTQ communities, Gee said.

Gee said the caucus has a modest goal of raising $5,000 for its activities, which he described as “very, very modest.”

He also said the group will address what he described as “subtle racism.” He cited an effort by some Millbrae residents to limit the number of Asian restaurants, contending it was “too many” and was over-dominating the city’s dining scene. Gee also cited a recent letter to the editor in which the author complained about the Asian American label, asserting that those who use the term should define themselves either as Asian or American.

As I noted at the beginning, it’s another signpost on the road to a different San Mateo County, a changing of the guard, as it were. San Mateo County simply is not the homogeneous, mostly white, mostly middle class community it was two generations ago.

There will be some who object to “racial politics” that distinguish between races, but racial differences often can spell societal and economic differences. And most assuredly, they tend to lead to reduced political power. The differences long have been drawn, to the detriment of minority communities – those on the outside of the political status quo.

Unifying in the name of common interests is the essence of coalition politics and it’s as American as apple pie.

Contact Mark Simon at

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.

Photo credit: San Mateo County API Caucus Facebook page.

Redwood City Library offering citizens mini-grants to create events, programs

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Ever wish a certain program, event or activity was offered at Redwood City Library? Here’s your chance to make it happen.

The Redwood City Library said it is offering small one-time grants of up to $1,000 to groups of people in the Redwood City and North Fair Oaks who have an idea for a program or event that “will help us reach and connect with people in the community who don’t currently use the library.”

The groups can be you and two to three friends or colleagues who share a creative idea for a program or activity at the Library. Groups chosen to receive grants will receive help from library staff to realize their ideas.

The effort, called “Library Takeover,” aims to “create more Library activities that help everyone in our community see the Library as a welcoming place and a valuable resource,” according to library officials.

Those interested in participating must attend of four “Library Takeover Orientation” sessions in June. They will feature refreshments and children’s activities and will take place:

  • Tuesday, June 18, 6:30-8:00 pm, Downtown Library Community Room
  • Thursday, June 20, 6:30-8:00 pm, Redwood Shores Branch Library Community Room
  • Saturday, June 22, 10:30 am – noon, Downtown Library Community Room
  • Wednesday, June 26, 6:30-8:00 pm, Fair Oaks Branch Library

More information on the Library Takeover can be found by clicking here.

Man arrested in unprovoked bat attack on teen in San Carlos

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A Pleasanton man has been arrested in connection with an unprovoked baseball bat attack on a teenager at a San Carlos home on Monday.

San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies responded to the home in the 200 block of Loma Road about 5:30 p.m. They learned that 34-year-old Payam Nia had just entered an opened garage and armed himself with a baseball bat. When the teenage victim walked through the garage, Nia struck him in the head with the bat, the sheriff’s office said. Nia and the teenager do not know each other, and the attack appears to be unprovoked, the sheriff’s office said.

After the attack, “Nia instructed the victim to be quiet, and then fled the scene,” the sheriff’s office said.

The victim was transported to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

After searching the neighborhood and Eaton Park open space area, a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office canine located and apprehended Nia.

Nia was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment and then booked into the San Mateo County Jail on charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest/obstructing an officer and cruelty to a child.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear, and the crime remains under investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Detective Bureau at 650-599-1536 or the anonymous tip line at 1-800-547-2700.

First Facebook festival of season raises $16K for charity

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A persistent rain didn’t prevent a vibrant Mardi Gras and Blues Festival from happening at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park earlier this month.

The May 18 Cajun Carnival, the first of five in an annual series of festivals sponsored by Facebook, raised over $16,000 for local nonprofit organizations battling hunger and homelessness in the mid-Peninsula, according to organizers. As we’ve reported recently, the festivals are akin to exceptionally fun farmers markets and are part of the company’s broader effort to bring fresh, affordable foods from local farmers to local communities.

The first festival of the new season featured a brass band, stilt walkers and a drum line cruising around the festival. Families enjoyed the Kids’ Zone,  grocery shopping, listening to live zydeco and jazz music and perusing dozens of food trucks. They could also visit the Facebook tech zone and test the Ocuus Go (virtual reality) headset demonstrations, Portal by Facebook and participate in a Portal raffle and an Instagram photo booth for charity.

The next Facebook Festival – Red, White & Brew — is set for Saturday, June 22. For information, visit this FB event page or this website.

Bakery shop burglary suspect arrested

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An arrest had been made in the burglary at a local bakery on Tuesday.

Manuel Magdaleno, 28, of Redwood City, was arrested on burglary and vandalism charges in connection with the incident at Emily’s Cakes at 3102 Middlefield Road, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said Magdaleno broke into the business at about 11:20 p.m. by
shattering a glass door, then broke open two cash registers and stole money before fleeing.

The business “had high quality surveillance cameras that recorded” Magdaleno, recognized from a previous burglary in January, committing the crime, the sheriff’s office said. Magdaleno was on probation due to the January incident.

On Wednesday at 11:48 a.m.,  Magdaleno was arrested at his home, where evidence of the bakery shop burglary was found, the sheriff’s office said.

Anyone who has additional information regarding this burglary, or additional crimes carried out by Magdeleno, is encouraged to contact Deputy Arcila at or call the Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 1-800-547-2700.

New org aims to bridge gap between local tech industry and schools

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Redwood City has experienced immense growth in the past decade, especially within the tech industry, with more than 150 tech companies calling Redwood City home today.

But that growth hasn’t trickled down to the local school system, according to Dan Ho, Cody Voellinger and Jane Buescher, local parents and denizens of the tech industry. Budget cuts due to declining enrollment recently forced the Redwood City School District, where over half of kids are income eligible to receive free or reduced lunches, to close four schools.

And so Ho, Voellingera and Buescher have founded Community Best, a nonprofit aimed at supporting the school district by connecting it to the local tech community.

Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain, who joined the Community Best team as a Special Advisor, said the city needs “corporate neighbors with great people, ingenuity and resources to get involved.”

“I joined Community Best in an advisory role to help bridge the gap between tech companies and local communities,” Bain said in a statement.

Tom Moss, COO at Skydio, an autonomous drone startup headquartered in Redwood City, expressed a desire to “give back and also deepen our ties with the community and local schools.” Meanwhile, Sandra Oh Lin, CEO of KiwiCO, says her company “wants STEAM education available to all children.”

“Our mission at KiwiCo is to provide the next generation of innovators with the tools and a foundation to become creative problem-solvers and critical thinkers,” Lin said. “So we are excited to partner with Community Best and contribute to STEAM initiatives at Redwood City schools.”

Community Best is hosting their first fundraiser to support Redwood City Schools, a “Night Out with Community Best,” on Thursday, May 30 at Angelicas in Redwood City. Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here.

For more information about Community Best and ways you can get involved you can visit their website here.

Redwood City aims to incentivize ADUs while also addressing concerns about them

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Redwood City is aiming to incentivize the construction of accessory dwelling units while also addressing community concerns about them, such as their height and impact on neighbor privacy.

On Tuesday, the Redwood City Planning Commission discussed and, at points, challenged recommendations by city staff to amend zoning code related to accessory dwelling units (ADUs), otherwise known as in-law units. State legislation in 2016 aiming to incentivize ADUs to address the housing crisis led to a sharp increase in applications to construct them in Redwood City. Neighbors have posed concerns about ADUs being built atop garages that overlook their yards, cast shadows and may not be aesthetically compatible with neighborhoods.

To address concerns, staff recommends reducing allowable height from 28 feet (the current maximum height for single-family homes) to 24 feet, although the Planning Commission has asked staff to explore reducing the height limit even further.

Some of the city recommendations aim to incentivize construction of ADUs. The city is proposing to increase their allowable size from 800 to 1,000 square feet and to reduce single-story rear setbacks from 10 feet to 6.

See the list of recommended changes below.

City staff aims to review the recommendations further and return to the Planning Commission with any revisions as soon as June 18.

Second Story ADUs and Privacy:

  • Reduce maximum heights for second-story ADUs above garages from 28 ft. to 24 ft. to limit height and mass and to keep units secondary to the single-family home.
  • Restrict exterior stairs, balconies, and roof decks facing immediately adjacent neighbors to reduce privacy impacts.
  • Require opaque or clerestory windows when facing immediately adjacent side and rear neighbors to reduce privacy impacts.
  • Prohibit roof decks above accessory structures to reduce privacy impacts.

One Story ADUs:

  • Reduce single-story rear setbacks from 10 ft. to 6 ft. to increase ADU production.
  • Exempt ADUs from a 50% rear lot coverage requirement to increase buildable footprint in the rear yard.
  • Allow replacement of detached garages into ADUs to incentivize one-story ADU construction and to ensure new structures into compliance with setbacks.
  • Increases ADA maximum size from 800 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. in order to incentivize construction.
  • Exempt one-story ADUs from the Hillside Ordinance to reduce further barriers to ADU construction

San Carlos man arrested in alleged sexual assault on minor

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Two people were injured, and one of them was arrested, after a two-vehicle collision tonight that snarled traffic on U.S. Highway 101 in and near Redwood City for hours, the California Highway Patrol said. The collision was reported about 7:50 p.m. when a Mazda MX-5 and a Hyundai Sonata sedan collided on northbound 101 near the Whipple Road interchange in Redwood City, said CHP Officer Dave Morey. Specifics about how the collision occurred are still being investigated, Morey said, but the Mazda ended up on its roof. The driver of the Mazda, a man whose name was not available tonight, suffered moderate injuries, and was taken to Stanford Medical Center for treatment. He also was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, Morey said. Two people were in the Hyundai. The adult driver suffered moderate injuries, Morey said, and a 6-year-old passenger in the back seat was not injured. The actions of both drivers are still under investigation, Morey said. After the accident, all northbound lanes of 101 were closed briefly, and three lanes remained closed until after 9 p.m.

A 57-year-old San Carlos man has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor twice after meeting the victim using an online dating app, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Jeffrey Ramsden was arrested and booked at the Maguire Correctional Facility on Friday, May 17, following an investigation, the sheriff’s office said.

Ramsden sexually assaulted the victim on two occasions in a private San Carlos home, the sheriff’s office said.

“We believe there are potentially more victims out there that may have been contacted by Ramsden via online dating applications,” the sheriff’s office said.

If you or someone you know has had contact with Ramsden, contact Detective Joe Fava at 650-363-4192 or email him at

Bair Island Aquatic Center to offer free rowing lessons June 1

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In honor of National Learn to Row Day, the Bair Island Aquatic Center boathouse will be open to anyone interested in learning to row at a free event on Saturday, June 1.

This event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the boathouse at 1450 Maple St. No experience is necessary.

“Have an opportunity to spend some time on an erg (rowing machine) to get the feel for different parts of the rowing stroke and go on the water in a rowing shell,” organizers said.

To register online, go here: and click on “Upcoming Free Event.”

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